Video Game Review of the Week


--Review by KenshiroKing @ 7/1/03 17:47 PST.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War





Welcome to July, my little friends. Our feature piece of electronic entertainment for this week is one that manifests itself in the guise of an old friend. I speak of none other than Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War. This little gem is presented by Activision for the Xbox console.

Wolfenstein is one of those game franchises that seems to have been around forever. Many of you youngsters probably don't even remember the old crappy Escape from Castle Wolfenstein in all its monochromatic top-down perspective glory. You all probably remember the first Wolfenstein as good old Wolfy 3D. I cannot tell you how much your ignorance sickens me.

Anyway, this most recent installation of Wolfenstein has you once again filling the large military boots of B.J. Blaskowicz. Your job this time is.... well, I confess I am not really that sure. I know for a fact it involves Nazis, finding hidden treasure and, at some point, a mini-gun, but past that I'm not too sure. The reason for this? Fabulous MULTIPLAYER! Yes, most of my time spent with this game was on Xbox live. I did however spend enough time playing the single player that I can tell you with all honesty that it was decent and worth at least a passing glance.

The controls for RTCW were fabulous. Not since Halo has an FPS' control scheme been so intuitive and easy to grasp. Switching weapons, jumping and even kicking were all accomplished with ease and grace, no embarassing moments screaming: "No, don't reload, shoot! SHOOT!"

I found the graphics of RTCW to be entirely adequate, if not more so. Everything was clean with no annoying glitches or slowdowns or anything of that sort. Visibility extends as far as the eye can see and everything can be seen in clear detail. My one complaint with the visuals in this game is that the wall textures are bland and often repeated. Thankfully, this was the only shortcoming in this department.

One spot in which RTCW excelled was in the sound category. The music is superb, if somewhat limited in variety, and had me fully into the game from the moment I heard the opening strains of the title music. The sound effects are similarly well developed, from the wizz of a near miss of a sniper rifle to the sound of incoming planes heralding an oncoming airstrike.

Far and away the best feature of Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War is the multiplayer. Personally, my favorite Xbox live title is Mechassault. I like the strategy and somewhat meticulous pace that it offers. I was never really that excited about Unreal Championship because it always seemed to me that everyone was just running around killing each other willy-nilly without a serious strategy. (I can almost hear the protestations from the hardcore UCers) Wolfenstein, to me, represents a midpoint between the two. There are moments of intense firefights where the only thing that can save you are your twitch gaming skills, but at the same time, there are allowances for strategy and tactics which I just love.

The multiplayer is pretty standard. You can play such classics as objective, elimination and even co-op. When playing multiplayer on Xbox live, the players form into two teams, Axis and Allies. The two teams then compete against each other to accomplish whatever the goal for that particular match is. There are several types of soldiers you can play, and variety is essential for success. For instance, medics can heal and even revive fallen soldiers, but carry very little ammo. If you add a lieutenant to the mix, he can provide extra ammo and call in airstrikes. Soldiers can wield the heavier types of weapons such as the Panzerfaust rocket launcher and the Venom mini-gun. By having a diverse collection of troops, your team will find victory much more attainable. There also is not much lag to speak of during multiplayer games. Not to say that I never encountered any, but it is a far cry from the lag-plagued multiplayer of Ghost Recon. The only problem I had with the online play for RTCW is that you are forced to play team games, there is no support for solo play. There are times when your teammates are just plain jackassess, and it would be nice to not have to rely on anyone other than yourself.

Overall, good. Just plain good. Kenshiroking likey vely much. The multiplayer was solid and a nice break from Mechassault that is not plagued by lag. The regular game was not all that interesting and therefore, a weak point. However, controls, graphics and sound were all better than average and made the game fun to play.

Score: 7/10



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